Top NBA Players: #39 Greg Monroe

Mar. 16, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe during game against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Pistons 109-101. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Greg Monroe
Resume: 15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 31.5 minutes, 30 double-doubles (9th in league), 52% FG, and 74% FT… Team record in games played: 25-41

Greg Monroe being ranked 39th, one spot ahead of DeMarcus Cousins, epitomizes what this list is all about. Yesterday I talked about how Cousins dominated Olympic Team vs. Select Team scrimmages this summer, and how it’s not much of a surprise since Cousins has every physical tool you could want if you are a Center in the NBA. He is assertive, he can create his own shot, he’s athletic and he’s a mountain of a man. If this list were based on statistics and individual skill alone, Cousins is probably 15-20 spots higher. Dig a little deeper and you remember than by all accounts Cousins is dangerously close to straying down the path of every other coach killer and locker room pain from the past that had immense skill but never fully realized it.

Monroe is the perfect foil to Cousins. Consider that in the 2010 NBA Draft, Cousins fell to the 5th pick mainly because the 76ers, Nets and Timberwolves had concerns (maybe legitimate) that Cousins was crazy. Oddly enough, things might have worked out much better for the Kings and Cousins if Sacramento too would’ve passed on Cousins, and selected a safer player. Say, someone like Greg Monroe? In that scenario, Sacramento wins because they aren’t drafting another black hole offensively, and Cousins wins because he ends up not having to play with a bunch of guys who shoot all of the time.

In all likelihood, Monroe isn’t fazed at all by this switch since he’s seemingly going to be a chameleon wherever he is or whatever the situation is. I say he’s a perfect foil to Cousins because Cousins is so devastating offensively, but also potentially to his team as a whole, where Monroe is not nearly as assertive in either respect. He’s someone who will rarely demand the ball and will likely never demand a trade and go on to get his coach fired. Over his career, Monroe will improve his game, which means his numbers will improve as well. Finally, he’ll start to get noticed, and hopefully it will be for things like being an incredibly smart basketball player and a terrific offensive rebounder. I’d be willing to bet that over time, everything Cousins does on the court will be overshadowed by the growing number of people (coaches, teammates, and potentially management at some point) he pisses off.

Even though right now Monroe has about 90% of the skill that Cousins has, he’s only 5% as likely to go off on a tirade, curse out his coaches, piss off his teammates and demand a trade. And he probably makes his team 50% better than Cousins does. All of this means more than the extra 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds Cousins averages.